Amsterdam quaterback Deanthony Colon (18) fakes a handoff to fullback Jaden Fallen (20) during Friday’s game against Averill Park at Averill Park High School. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
AVERILL PARK — The fourth quarter of Friday’s struggle on the gridiron played out like a play in three acts.
The first act, a quick dagger: Carl Nitz’s 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the quarter that gave Averill Park its first, and only, lead of the game.
The second, a drawn-out struggle: Amsterdam’s 15-play march covering more than eight minutes that got within 21 yards of the goal line before final fizzling out.
The third, a frustrating finale: The Rams, out of timeouts, could do nothing but watch as the Warriors let the remaining time leak away to capture a 20-15 victory.
For an Amsterdam team that went into the game without starting quarterback Trey Holloway and still stood toe-to-toe with a Warriors team that had come within a missed 2-point conversion of knocking off defending sectional champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake seven days earlier, it was a bitter loss to swallow.
“We used our timeouts on offense,” Amsterdam coach Doug Edick said. “We were misaligned, whatever, and that hurt us. It came down to clock management.”
It was a fourth-quarter filled with mounting tension and drama. It started with the Rams nursing a 15-14 lead, but that lasted all of three seconds as the Warriors opened the final stanza with the ball on the Amsterdam 1-yard line and immediately found paydirt when Nitz plunged over the goal line. Averill Park tried the same play for the 2-point conversion to try and make it a seven-point game, but Nitz was stood up in the backfield.
Down just five, Amsterdam could still take the lead with a touchdown of its own.
Amsterdam’s final drive started on its own 28-yard line with 11:51 to play and, as it was for most of the night, it was a slow march down the field. Twice in a row, Amsterdam was forced into third-and-long, and on both occasions Deanthony Colon converted passes to move the chains and get the ball into Averill Park territory.
Then, things started moving in the wrong direction. Jade Fallen was stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on first down, then Colon was sacked by Gavin Ryan on second down, setting up the Rams with a third-and-17 from their own 46 with 6:32 to play and forcing the Rams to use their first timeout.
On third down, Colon hit Louis Fedullo for a 13-yard gain to make the fourth-down attempt a bit more manageable, and the Rams were able to convert thanks to a defensive holding penalty when the Warriors’ secondary bit on a double move by Fedullo.
In a scramble to get the next play in, the Rams burned their second timeout with 5:57 to play, but it hardly seemed to matter when Colon hit Ryan Bradt for a 10-yard gain to put Amsterdam on the Averill Park 21-yard line. There was plenty of time left and plenty of chances to get into the end zone.
And then, all of a sudden, there weren’t. Colon couldn’t handle the shotgun snap on first down and lost 10 yards. On second down, Warriors linebacker Garrett Wagner blitzed off right tackle and dropped Colon for an 8-yard loss. On third down, Wagner blitzed again and scored another sack, pushing the Rams into fourth-and-31 from the AP 42.
The Rams burned their third and final timeout to set up their desperation play, and Colon completed a pass to Jake Greco down the seam, but he was hauled down 12 yards shy of the line to gain and the Rams — as they had on three other occasions earlier in the night — turned the ball over deep in Averill Park territory.
“A couple missed blocks here and there, the missed snap, you’ve got to eliminate those mistakes,” Edick said.
Without any timeouts remaining, Amsterdam’s only hopes were to try and force a quick turnover or get three stops and make the Warriors punt the ball away to get the ball back with barely any time remaining.
The defense did its job. The clock didn’t. Averill Park’s first play resulted in a block in the back penalty, but that allowed the clock to keep running after the ball was reset. The same thing happened on the next play, when Averill Park was whistled for an illegal shift and again, the clock started up once the ball was set. The Warriors ran two plays, let the clock run down to 28 seconds and burned a timeout before the play clock expired, then took a knee on third down and walked off the field with the win.
“A couple breaks didn’t go our way, and that’s football,” Edick said. “‘[Averill Park] took advantage of the mistakes. They’re a tough team.”
It’s a loss that put the Rams behind the eight-ball in terms of their Section II Class A playoff aspirations with three regular season games to go, but there were positives to be gleaned. Amsterdam mostly kept Averill Park’s triple option offense in check, and Colon had an eye-catching performance at quarterback with 286 yards of total offense — 140 passing, 146 rushing — and a pair of touchdowns.
“He did awesome, and I thought our effort was there the whole game,” Edick said.